Buffy glanced at Giles as she drove them back from Ethan’s house. He’d been extremely quiet since they’d left, speaking only when spoken to – and even then it was very much a ‘pulling teeth’ type of exercise. Though she understood somewhat, it was unusual – he normally was the one to keep the conversation flowing and now he was completely silent and staring out the passenger window. She was fairly certain he wasn’t searching for anything, but simply deep in thought.
“Giles?” When he didn’t respond, she reached over and gently placed her hand on his thigh.
He didn’t turn his head towards her, but he did cover her hand with his, curling his fingers around her palm. The muscles in his thigh contracted, then relaxed.
“Giles…are you okay?” She asked softly, easily navigating his car through the darkened roads. She did her best not to roll her eyes at herself – because even she realised the stupidity of that question.
He was quiet for a moment longer, then slowly shook his head. “I’ll have to advise the Council tomorrow.”
“I’m going to be with you.” She said, her right hand tightening on the steering wheel as he finally turned to look at her. “Don’t even try to talk me out of it, Ru. That’s not negotiable.”
He squeezed her hand, a tiny smile showing on his lips. “Thank you.”
“Do you want to stay at my place or yours tonight?”
He thought for a second and then reached over to run his fingers through her hair. “It would probably be better for the Council Members to come to mine – if that’s alright with you?”
Buffy nodded, rubbing her thumb against his thigh. “Yeah, of course. I just need to stop by my place first – I don’t have the right kind of clothes at your place to be meeting with the Council.”
He nodded in return, but fell back into silence – though he kept his hand on hers. After a long few minutes, he lowered his head – if he could have taken a deep breath, he would have.
“I apologise for my distance right now, Buffy.” He said softly, his words and tone conveying the emotional pain he was feeling.
She glanced at him quickly before returning her eyes back to the road. “Are you serious? If you were all cuddly and chatty right now, I’d be more concerned. Giles, you’re going through – well, more than a lot, by a longshot. I understand the quietness, I’m here when you’re ready to talk.”
“Are you sure you want to stay with me?” He asked suddenly, eyes focused on the glove box.
Instead of responding, she pulled over to the side of the road and pulled her hand out from under his. She threw the transmission into park and unbuckled her seatbelt before he could question what she was doing. He turned his head towards her just as she grabbed his shoulder and pulled him into a tight embrace. It was one of those embraces that, not that long ago, h would have had to remind her that he still needed to breathe. That reminder was no longer necessary, obviously.
“I love you, Rupert.” She whispered, closing her eyes when she felt his arms move around her. “This isn’t about me feeling responsible or…god, anything else, other than love.”
“You wanted so much more in your life.” He whispered in return, fighting back an onslaught of tears.
“We’re going to work through everything. We’ll have options to look at. But, we need to get through work shit first.”
“I don’t want to lose you.” He said emotionally, fingers gripping her back. “I didn’t want to lose you before this.” He paused and shook his head. “What I mean is – I don’t want you to think that this is because of this recent turn of events. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while – I just…didn’t know how to go about it.”
“Okay, I think vampirism has definitely made you a bit more confusing – if that’s even possible.” She said lightly, pulling back and offering him a smile.
“I wanted to ask you to move in with me.” He looked into her eyes, sliding the fingers of his left hand through her hair before caressing her cheek. “I want to ask you.”
She leaned into his touch and sighed. “You want or are?”
His thumb gently stroked her cheekbone, his tongue licked his dry lips. “Buffy, will you move in with me?”
“Straight and to the point…I like it.” She teased lovingly, turning her head and kissing the palm of his hand. “And yes – yes, I will.”
A wave of relief shone on his face. “Perfect.”
She laughed then – a gentle, adorable laugh – and captured his lips in a warm kiss. They didn’t let it escalate, keeping mind that they were sitting in his running car on the side of the highway. But, there was definitely a promise for more…when they were in a more appropriate setting.
* * *
She pulled up outside of her flat and killed the engine, looking at him. “You know you’re going to have to get Xander to build an extra room for all of my clothes and shoes, right?”
He laughed with genuine amusement and climbed out of the car. “I’m sure we’ll be able to figure something out.”
He moved up to stand beside of her as she flicked through the keys on his key ring, reaching out to run his fingertips across her lower back. She looked up at him as she slipped the key into the lock, giving him a wink.
“You keep that up, we’re going to be here longer than just to pick up some clothes…”
He chuckled as she walked into her flat and he took a step forward to follow her in. His chuckle ended abruptly, causing her to look around at him.
He was standing there, just outside her door – his eyes glistening in the moonlight, his hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans.
“Shit….” She whispered in immediate understanding. “I forgot, I’m sorry. Come in, Giles.”
He cleared his throat and took a hesitant step forward through the doorway. “I, uh…wasn’t expecting that to be as painful as it was.”
She tilted her head slightly as he closed the door and then scratched the back of his head. “Physically or emotionally?”
“Both, actually.” He shrugged a shoulder, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “Much like an electric shock…but, also – further proof that I am not as I were.”
“No, you’re not.” She agreed, walking over to him and leaning up to press a tender kiss to his lips. “But, your soul is safe…with no little surprise triggers – so, you’re not going to suddenly turn evil and try to terrorize me and all of our friends.”
His eyes darted to the mirror in the hallway and his brow furrowed. “No reflection either.”
“Look, I’m not saying things are just going to fall right into place. We’re going to have to make some adjustments, but…we’re going to adapt.” She reached up and gently turned his head until he was looking at her again. “Hey, we’re going to adapt, Rupert. I’ll pack away my crucifixes, lock up the holy water – ”
“I wonder if they’ll affect me…” He mused softly. “We should probably…experiment…with things…”
“Well, that sounds like fun.” She grumbled, taking a step back. “Hey honey, stand still and let’s see how much this hurts you.”
He stared after her for a brief second as she turned and started walking down the hall. And then a sudden realisation hit him – and he inwardly cursed himself for being so…stupid and thoughtless. He moved quickly, wrapping his fingers around her forearm and pulling her to a stop.
“Buffy, wait. I’m sorry. I’m making this about me…and not about us.” He said, looking into her eyes. “And that’s fairly idiotic of me – because this affects you as much as it does me.”
“Maybe not as much, but…a lot.” She shook her head as she sighed heavily. “As fucked up as it is, we can’t wallow in it, Giles. If we do, the demon wins – whether it’s contained or not. So, we take a minute – and then we regroup and come back stronger than before. Because…” She tapped her finger against his chest and offered him a slightly nervous smile. “…you’re like a superhero now. A vampire who’s good and moral – and can walk in the light? It’s pretty amazing, when you think about it.”
“And…the student becomes the teacher.” He said softly, an air of pride in his tone. “And of course, you’re right. This turn could have – should have – been much worse.”
“Devastating, I’d say.” Buffy replied, lowering her eyes.
“I wish Dad were still alive.” Giles thought aloud, rubbing the side of his neck. “His forward thinking…Lottie’s research and spell creation…while possibly not ethical, they did what they thought best.”
“I can’t say I’m not grateful for it.” Buffy added, with a shrug of her shoulder as she turned and started down the hallway again. He followed her, hands in his pockets as he listened to her continue her thought. “I mean – they went above and beyond. She could’ve stopped with keeping your soul from being thrown out.”
“Would you have been able to do it?” He asked, leaning against the doorframe as she opened her closet. “If it hadn’t worked, would you have staked me?”
Her hand froze on one of the many hangers and she inhaled deeply, slowly. She exhaled a shuddering breath.
“Buffy?” He pushed away from the doorframe and sat down on the edge of her bed.
She shook her head, as if to clear it, and pulled the hanger from the closet. She held the outfit up in front of her and looked into the mirror.
“What do you think of this?”
“I think it’s lovely, like everything you wear.” He answered without hesitation, then quickly continued. “But, I asked you a question.”
“Yes. I would have.” She admitted, her voice thick with emotion. “Because I learned my lesson with Angelus. You would have become too powerful too quickly…and there would have been no way I could have stopped you later – you know me, you know my moves…you are the one person in the entire world who can read what I’m going to do next.”
Giles nodded slowly, a small smile on his lips. “Very good answer, love. Because – ”
“But, it would have destroyed me.” She continued, not even registering that he had started to speak. “And I don’t think I would’ve been able to come back from that. I don’t think I would have wanted to come back from that.”
He extended his hand to her and she walked over, taking it with no hesitation. He pulled her in between his legs and looked up at her.
“Thankfully, it’s not something you had to endure. However, I think you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for being.”
She ran her fingers through his hair, shaking her head as he rested his hands on her hips. “Not in this case.”
Before he could say anything else, she lowered her head and captured his lips in a kiss – a warm kiss that she quickly deepened. He responded immediately, opening his mouth under hers and coaxing her tongue inside.
This hadn’t been expected, but she went with it – inhaling sharply when he quickly shifted and pulled her onto the mattress with him, half covering her body with his as his fingers pulled at the button of her jeans.
He knew his eyes had changed by the way his vision had shifted – the colors sang to him, much like the sirens would sing to the sailors as they lured them in. He was being lured…and he followed the song willingly. He glanced at her neck, wanting desperately to kiss her there…but, not yet trusting himself completely.
“Fuck, I want you.” He growled, staring into her eyes.
“Then take me…” She said, her eyes darkening as she tugged his shirt out of his jeans. When she noticed his eyes dart to her neck again, she licked her lips. “I trust you…”
His eyes snapped back to hers. “I don’t. Not yet.”
“When you do, I will.” She countered, with an understanding smile.
He returned her smile and then reignited their kiss.